Mayor Slay was asked a few questions in the 2007 Preview special section the St. Louis Business Journal. When asked what he thought would be making news he said, “The success of Washington Avenue will spread to nearby neighborhoods. Old North St. Louis and Benton Park West will become the new Soulards.”
I repeated this to a client of mine the other day when she asked about Benton Park West. And she said, “Does that mean it is going to have a lot of bars?”
I took this as a good reminder that we all think very differently and what one word (or in this case neighborhood) connotes to one may not be what it connotes to another. When I think of Soulard, I think in terms of price and I think entry level there is around $250,000.00. To check myself I did a quick search on the MLS. Nothing scientific, but here’s what I found when I looked for an updated 3 bedroom, 1.5+ bath single family: 9 active listings with prices starting at $235,000 and capping at $429,888. I drove around these three neighborhoods deliberately searching for a street scape that reflected what comes to mind when I think of these places.
When I hear Soulard, I think of finished street where the house look well kept and the street looks cohesive.When I think of Benton Park West, I do think, “Here’s the new Soulard” I think that it is on the verge of exploding. Right now my first time home buyers can still afford it. In terms of price I think $160-$175,000. I did another search to check myself and I wasn’t too surprised. Again, it wasn’t an exhaustive search. I was looking for at least 3 bedrooms and something move-in ready. I found 13 active listings. All at least 3 bedrooms. Prices started at $159,000 and capped at $252,900. $250,000 seemed high to me so I compared it to the place in Soulard for $235,000 to see what the difference was. For $235,000 in Soulard you get what looks to me like an 80’s renovation. It has just over 2000 square feet with wood floors, white kitchen with mismatched appliances and formica countertops, no parking. Overall it appears to be in good condition and with a little bit of polish it could really shine.
However, in Benton Park West, the listing for 252,900 is a single family with an oversized 2 car garageport. It has recently been gutted so all the systems are new and finishes include granite countert ops, stainless appliances and luxury bath.Now for the real challenge.
This photo is what I think of when I think of Old North St. Louis. I was tempted to take a picture of all the new construction that is going on at North Market Place, but that’s not what I usually think of. I think of Crown Candy, vacant lots and boarded buildings. I also think that it is far, but it isn’t. From the corner in the photograph, Blair and Branch, to Locust and Tucker is just under a mile and a half. In contrast from Locust and Tucker to Iowa and Arsenal it is closer to 2.5 miles. The search in the MLS turned up 3 listings: all new construction ranging in price from $169,900 to $189,900.
In conclusion: Yes, I think Benton Park West will have more bars as soon as the neighborhood can support them! And the intersection of Salisbury and Blair up north would make an amazing main street!